With Cotton and Reclaimed Symbols, Christopher Martin Tells a Story of Race in America

Christopher Martin sewing a banner.

12.9.2019

Artist Christopher Martin, a black man who grew up in North Carolina, seeks to reclaim the symbols of racism in his banners. From KQEDarts:

Christopher Martin sewing a banner.

Black Mail collective ), a group of Black artists supporting each other with shared studio space and exhibition opportunities. “It feels comforting,” Martin says, “having that safe space to create artwork with a tribe of fellow Black people in this time where so many of us are getting pushed out.” Martin was recently part of the San Francisco Art Institute exhibition Vanguard Revisited: Poetic Politics & Black Futures , a show that revisited photographs of the Black Panther’s social programs and looked to the future via work by local contemporary artists. “It’s a little bit of weight on my shoulders,” Martin admits, “but I have great pride in participating and pushing this storyline of Black Power.” “As Above So Below”; 2018; fabric. (courtesy of Christopher Martin) And Martin’s ties to his roots extend beyond source material—he and his mother run an apparel business together called Cypher (she knits the beanies). He acknowledges the symbols in his work can be divisive: some find the violence implicit in the images he uses triggering. He feels the emotional strain of working with the material himself, a psychic state he counters by listening to and playing the blues. Ultimately, he finds the process of making his art a healing one. By making work that speaks to his own experiences, and holding a mirror up to not just historical but contemporary injustices, Martin dreams of ushering in the creation of a more equitable world. — Text by Sarah Hotchkiss For arts stories you won't read anywhere else, come to KQED's Arts and Culture desk. Enter Email Address Read more: NPR

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